Cambodia 1

Preface: This is a new blog! Who knows what might come out of my brain… Rants, theological musings, music reviews, poetry… It could really be anything! But, as I’m in Cambodia presently, we shall begin there.

We began our first full day in Phnom Penh (the capital), yesterday, with a trip to church. We attended the English language service at the Anglican Church of Christ Our Peace. It was sort of comforting; almost identical liturgy to the Anglican church in Australia. The pastor there has only been here for a year, and has previously been in Nepal and Delhi. He preached on Jesus’ power over demons, and prefaced the sermon by acknowledging many of us westerners there might disagree with him. I think he over-estimated the disagreement… He basically said, ‘Remember that it’s Jesus who is in control!’ Well said.

The people at church were great. We had fun, as seems often to be the case in Cambodia, guessing the ages of the young Cambodians there, and vice versa!

For lunch we travelled to a restaurant run by members of a church plant setup last year by CMS Victoria missionaries Inpar & Vana Eliezer. This is where a thread that will continue while I’m here begins…

The idea behind running a restaurant as a parachurch organization related to this new church plant is to teach Cambodian Christians that Jesus is the Lord of everything, not just Church, and also to tackle unemployment in the local area. It is integral mission & wholistic development in action.

The church in the developing world has much to teach us lazy westerners in this regard. Why aren’t we involved in our local communities? Why isn’t the success and growth of the local community, for the sake of the community, one of the high priorities of western churches? Instead, we’re happy to leave the world with the impression that the church no longer has an interest in business, culture, and social services. There’s a secular state to deal with all of that; we’ll just worry about Sunday and blend in during the rest of the week. More thoughts on this over the next week. Praise God that Christians on this side of the world are living their whole life for Jesus & their neighbours!

A final few reflections on the first 4 days. I like it here. It feels like home. I stepped off the plane in Phnom Penh and felt as though I’d never left. There is an incredible degree of familiarity with a country I’ve only spent 10 days in before this week. I love the weather. I love the people. I love the way the place smells. I’m excited by the church here and the work Christians are doing. I’m excited by the forward-looking pulse of the Cambodian people. I’m intrigued by their recent past, while also being horrified, and in awe of their ancient culture. Plus, who can go past the world’s best pineapple & deep fried grasshoppers?! Or maybe just a good chicken amok.

This all has me thinking… I could maybe spend a long, long time here during my life.


5 thoughts on “Cambodia 1

  1. Awesome. I like your discomfort at western evangelical thinking on the sacred/secular divide, and the fact that it is still there even after the problem has been given a name as cool as ‘the sacred/secular divide’. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on this.

    If you get the chance, check out the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity. This is their hobbyhorse too.

    I look forward to poetry and music reviews, and can I request a limerick or possibly a haiku in your musings?

    Peace out.

  2. Hey Richard,

    Great reading! Hope the rest of your time in Cambodia goes exceedingly well.

    ps, I just love, love, LOVE the title of your blog! Long live Nick Cave

  3. You raise an interesting and valid point my friend… what are we lazy westerners doing? Why is it so difficult for us to integrate and involve ourseleves in our community? I wonder does ‘community’ look so different in western countries that we have an excuse to distance ourselves from it? Or de-value it?

    How radical (or maybe just Christ like)the church would be if we actually managed to show as well as speak of God’s sacrifical love.

  4. Sounds great Richard, keep the updates coming.

    I especially liked this point: “we’re happy to leave the world with the impression that the church no longer has an interest in business, culture, and social services. There’s a secular state to deal with all of that”.

    Someone said to me the other day that we have made the state the good samaritan so that we don’t have to.

    I am so excited you have a blog Richard!

  5. I would like to go back to Cambodia right now. Why do we all (maybe with the exception of Sam!) have that feeling that it’s like home? What is God telling us? I also found it very exciting to see how things had developed in the village after a year. It was awesome to see how much more established the whole village seemed. And to be able to irrigate from the pond, that was just great. Where will it all lead us????

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